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yeti1069

How do you handle language? Or do you at all?

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In my current campaign, the PCs are assumed to have passing familiarity with various common languages based on background (the Corellian spacer knows a bit of Durese, Drallish, and Selonian; the Magnaguard understands Kaleesh and Binary, etc.).

Any languages that they don't speak, I try to arrange some sort of intermediary or translator in the scene, like their new Bith friend typing out his messages on a datapad.

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It's never really been an issue in any of the games I've played in this system.

 

Even back in the WEG days, it was just generally easier to assume the PCs could understand each other by default, and a number of GMs only called for a Languages skill check if was really relevant to the plot.

 

We never see the language barrier come up in the movies except when dealing with the Ewoks, and even that was surmounted without too much trouble (though one might wonder how many terms Threepio had to simply say "close enough" when conversing with the Ewoks about high-tech things like blasters and starships).  We've no idea of Luke had any troubles understanding what Ponda Baba was saying or was just not paying any real attention to what he thought was a mostly harmless drunk.

 

I'd say that unless a PC comes from a very sheltered background where only a few languages were spoken, then they shouldn't have any trouble conversing with various species that are frequently encountered in the galaxy.  And even then, they should be able to figure out enough of what those rare primitive screwheads are jabbering about to at least exchange basic ideas and concepts.  If a roll is needed, I'd go with Knowledge (Xenology), but not ask for rolls every time one side or the other opens their mouth.

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I let every player start with Basic + their native language. Since everyone on the team is able to speak Basic, they don't know their team mates' native languages from the start. Everytime they encounter a (new) language, I let them roll either Knowledge-Xenology or Knowledge-Education (indicating that they learned the language through studies), their choice. If they fail the roll, they can't understand the language, but they have the option of trying to learn it later through study.

 

I usually just ask for average difficulty checks for the rolls, since I don't really have an idea how easy or common it would be to know a certain language. I was trying to make a checklist with every SW language, but there's so many of them... <_<

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Han understands, Chewie, Greedo, Jabba, and probably a couple of others.

 

Well, Han had been with Chewie for many years, so he'd had time to pick up on Shyriiwook.  It helped that Chewbacca already understood Basic and could teach him (or, expand his vocabulary if he had already learned some).  Han also was a smuggler, so he had need to understand Huttese, which both Jabba and Greedo spoke.

 

What I do is to have the players write down what languages they know at the start.  Basic, their species language (if they have one), and maybe one or two others.  Then they justify why they know those other languages.  Then, if some NPC comes along who doesn't speak any of those languages, I'll provide a way for them to converse if needed.  However, as stated above, sometimes I want things to be secret; I want information hidden from the players so they can figure it out later on.  Then, they don't understand.

 

I guess if someone knew a related language, then I would allow them to make a roll to determine how much they could make out.  But I"m not sure which languages are that closely related.  LIke, if someone were fluent in a Romance language or two, I'd allow a roll to determine if they could make out some of a third when it was spoken.

 

Then, as they play the game, chances may come up to learn new languages.  It takes time, and it's not going to happen overnight, but it can happen.  Then they can add it to their lists.

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Unless my plot requires a lack of communication, or there's some really obvious reason why they shouldn't, everybody knows the language.  If for some reason they don't, hop on down to Radio Hutt and buy yourself a handy dandy Rodian to Standard translator box. 

 

What, you've crashed on a world of primitives, how can I possibly understand them.  Well, they descended from a lost colony ship that was stuck here and descended into barbarism a thousand years ago.  Sure, they've got a thick accent and are a bit hard to understand, but you can get the gist.

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I know from experience how easy it is to get Lost In Translation, so I am prone to throw characters that don't understand opr speak Basic at the party.

 

That said, I've implemented the following into the game:

 

1) All characters speak their native tongue fluently.

2) All characters understand any language spoken by the party. Speaking is variable, as some speecies (like Wookiees, Jawas, and a number of others) are physically unable to speak Basic.

3) If a player has a reason to know a language, even in passing, I allow them to have a "Basic Understanding" of the language. They are unable to get all of their points across, but at least they won't starve. (For example, the Twi'lekk has this degree of understanding of Huttese)

4) If the player describes why they should know the language and use a Destiny Point, they automatically know the language, end of story.

 

This worked out, but in the last adventure, we had a new player join the table with an Imperial Army background. I then had to implement rules for learning a language, as two of the players are unable to speak Basic.

 

1) At first, the character is unable to understand anything being said.

2) Over time with translations, the character will begin to understand words and phrases. In low stress/non-dangerous situations, they can get by, but in a dangerous/high stress situation, I call for an Average Intellect roll. Average time is a few days to a month, depending on degree of exposure and practice.

3) During prolonged downtime (trips that take a bit of time) and practice (times where characters train and spend XP together), all language concerns are waived. There may be a sporadic time a misunderstanding occurs, but it is rare.

 

 

So far, the new guy has spent about a galactic standard week with the party and only really understands when someone is ticked and/or is swearing as those are the most common words that were brought up (they planned a pretty intense heist with a lot of things that went wrong). They are going to be taking a trip that should be about 2-3 weeks and, if he voices interest in learning the language during the downtime, he'll be okay.

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Well, Han had been with Chewie for many years, so he'd had time to pick up on Shyriiwook.  It helped that Chewbacca already understood Basic and could teach him (or, expand his vocabulary if he had already learned some). 

 

If you read the old Han Solo novels, Han learns to speak the Wookiee tongue from a mother-figure Wookiee that helps to raise him when he's growing up as a thief. His fond memories of her (and some guilt that he was involved in events that lead to her death) are what caused Han to step up and save Chewbacca years later. Read Paradise Snare for the details.

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I essentially handle languages based on a character's career or past. For example, the smuggler in our group has been a smuggler for quite some time and thus is proficient in Huttese. I generally let the HK-51 droid know languages when it's convenient for the plot. After that, knowledge xenology usually helps them get along.

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Well, Han had been with Chewie for many years, so he'd had time to pick up on Shyriiwook.  It helped that Chewbacca already understood Basic and could teach him (or, expand his vocabulary if he had already learned some). 

 

If you read the old Han Solo novels, Han learns to speak the Wookiee tongue from a mother-figure Wookiee that helps to raise him when he's growing up as a thief. His fond memories of her (and some guilt that he was involved in events that lead to her death) are what caused Han to step up and save Chewbacca years later. Read Paradise Snare for the details.

 

And hope that Paradise Snare survives the Canon Cuts ;)

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Well, Han had been with Chewie for many years, so he'd had time to pick up on Shyriiwook.  It helped that Chewbacca already understood Basic and could teach him (or, expand his vocabulary if he had already learned some). 

 

If you read the old Han Solo novels, Han learns to speak the Wookiee tongue from a mother-figure Wookiee that helps to raise him when he's growing up as a thief. His fond memories of her (and some guilt that he was involved in events that lead to her death) are what caused Han to step up and save Chewbacca years later. Read Paradise Snare for the details.

 

And hope that Paradise Snare survives the Canon Cuts ;)

 

That's fairly irrelevant if you're just looking for inspiration on how to explain away a character speaking a language that might seem 'unusual' for them.

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